Wrestling the Bull

Today in Mommy-Land

*Phew!* Missed the last couple days because the hubby was home for an extended weekend, but we all had fun hanging out. The weather has been so nice, we’ve actually gotten out for walks! The Little Man’s nap schedule is still somewhat holding, though Monday was a little disrupted due to being out and about running errands out and about.

He’s started babbling even more lately, stringing lots of syllables together in almost sentences. It’s terribly cute! The monster growling isn’t as common, though, so that’s kind of sad. It’s amazing how quickly he goes through these vocalization phases. Whispering one week, clicking his tongue the next, monster growls, crescendo’ing screeches–it’s always changing. But it is fascinating to watch. He’s also just learned how to open cabinets, and has been pulling out all the non-breakable things (as the breakable things are up on the table now…)

But it’s so nice having Andy home during the week, and not just on weekends! I can cope with long-distance if we have to, but when he’s home at night, it’s like I can breathe better. :)

Today in Writer-Land

After a fairly unproductive weekend and week-start, I actually got a lot done today! During the Little Man’s first nap (short, about 40 minutes), I managed to retype the first two scenes of the current WiP, editing/smoothing as I went. Once I type in the next three scenes, then I’ll be able to send it off to one member of my crack team of beta-readers for critique. If I can get that good to go by the end of the week, that’ll be great!

During the second nap (much longer, about 2.5 hours!), I did a bunch of brainstorming and research on the Porter Short Story Challenge, and I think I’ve got it pegged. Mwahahaha! Oh boy, this is gonna be wacky, but maybe somewhat funny. Talk about writers-writing-about-writers-writing-about-writing Russian-nesting-dolls meta. Madness!

I also dove back into the summary draft of a novel that’s been playing around in my head for the past several years. I’m really liking where it’s going, though I also feel a bit like I’m wrestling a bull–the plot is sort of under control, but it could so easily break out of my grip and run amok. So we’ll see where that goes. I only know I love writing novel rough drafts this way. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to capturing that eager creative rush from my youth. Who knows what it will come to, but for now, I’m just having fun. :)


Creative Play, or: Letting Your Inner Child Run Rampant

ImageA long, long time ago I wrote a blog post for Apex Magazine about creative play. It’s long gone now, after several much-needed and very successful website overhauls, and if the original version is on this computer, I’ll be dashed if I can find it. (Welcome to the modern world of data-hoarding and the joys of “What did I title that document again?”) But I wanted to discuss it again, because recently, I’ve started exploring what creative play means in a writing setting.

Let me begin with a bit of a flash-back: In “The Good Old Days” when I was in sixth and seventh grade, I could write for hours. Literally, hours. My standing record was seven hours straight one Saturday without stopping for sustenance or probably even to pee. I remember that day only in hazy memory, gilded at its fuzzy edges by the sparkling fairy dust of childhood-remembered, and the whisper of urgent creativity: what happens next? I didn’t want to play outside. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to watch TV (which, if you know me and my self-admitted addiction to television, is the biggest shocker of all). I wanted to write, because writing at that time was more than just putting words on the page. It was living story. It was all-consuming. I wasn’t writing at all, but playing make-believe in Times New Roman. It was free and it was fun as hell.

Was the writing good? Hell no. Some of those old 100-page novels make me wince in stylistic agony when I re-read them these days, but I can’t deny they were bliss to write. Even now, I consider those heady days as some of the best of my writing life. I was so absorbed by the stories I was telling, I couldn’t hardly think about anything else.

In high school, and particularly in freshman/sophomore year of college, I decided to get serious about pursuing writing as a career. Continue reading “Creative Play, or: Letting Your Inner Child Run Rampant”


Learning to Trust the Process

I had something of a revelation today. In the course of wasting time (AKA avoiding writing), I found a link on my Facebook feed to a blog post by speculative author Jamie Todd Rubin. He’s spent the past year documenting his writing stats via a very smart Google analytics tool, which allowed him to write a post detailing the idea-to-publication path of one of his short stories. You can read the entire post here

I’ve always been interested in the various ways authors approach creating fiction, and particularly how they edit a draft to the point of being ready to submit it to markets. Mr. Rubin’s post details his entire process, from first concept to final sale (though even he admits the sale part was something of a fluke in its expediency, but still!). 

The thing that really caught me and has stuck with me all day, however, is that his process is almost identical to mine in the following ways: 1) Ideas tend to take a while to develop into something I can tackle on paper, 2) In the rewriting process, I also like to retype entire manuscripts from scratch in new documents to preserve “continuity,” and 3) I also save almost every scrap of text I cut out of a document (particularly when it comes to longer works, but sometimes for short works too). 

I think this made a particular impression on me because here is a living, breathing example of someone whose process is very similar to the one I’ve scraped together over the years, and who has found some good success with it. This is not to say that my ideas are as good as his, or even that I’m anywhere near the craft-level that he is, but I’m delighted that the process itself isn’t unique to me. I often think too much about how I go about composing fiction and whether or not I’m “doing it wrong” (whatever that means) or wasting needless time. Because I’m still such a newbie at it, it’s hard to separate whether or not it’s my idea or the process that hangs me up when a story isn’t working/isn’t getting finished. Should I draft faster? Should I spend the time to retype the whole draft while I edit, or is that just spinning my procrastination wheels? And so forth, and so on. 

I’ve tried numerous other processes throughout my writing apprenticeship, but none have felt as native to me as taking my time to let ideas percolate and then redrafting by retyping every sentence for a new draft. The anxiety that comes from trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t for me as a writer can just as easily hang me up as a bad plot point. I’m hell-bent on efficiency and productivity (probably too much), and because of that, I don’t think I’ve trusted my gut enough to “Trust the Process” as I’ve read in so many books on writing. Which process? Is there a better one? How can I tell? 

Reading Mr. Rubin’s blog post has, oddly enough, relieved me of some of that burden and left me feeling a bit more confident. The process that I naturally gravitate towards does work, at least for some successful writers. I don’t have to worry that I’m accidentally stifling myself by producing fiction in this way, or that I’m “not good enough” because when I get an idea, I have to let it percolate for a while before doing something with it. The process is functional, which means I can let go of that stressor and focus on what really matters: the writing and the ideas and the craft. It’s strangely liberating. 

Now whether my noveling process is functional or not is another question entirely, but not a concern for today! :)